Editor's note: The following text was published on March 27, 2008 in Resource Library with permission of Stuart Denenberg. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, please contact the author at Denenberg Fine Arts, Inc., 417 North San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048, T310-360-9360, F-310-499-5244 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Stuart Denenberg
Edward Hagedorn was born in San Francisco of German and Czech stock. His mother died in childbirth, and he was legally adopted and raised by his maternal grandmother and aunt. His father, a severe Prussian, ultimately disowned the son for exhibiting paintings of the female nude at the Oakland Museum -- Hagedorn had refused to withdraw them.
After briefly attending the San Francisco School of Fine Arts in the 20's, Edward Hagedorn and his longtime friend Paul Carey opened a studio, together with John Atherton, in the famed "Monkey Block"of Montgomery Street, then a haven for artists and other bohemians. From there Hagedorn was drawn to the Oakland Art Gallery, the most advanced gallery in the Bay Area, where, in 1926, Galka Scheyer exhibited and promoted the art of the Blue Four: Lyonel Feininger, Alexei Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Their vanguard experiments at the Weimar Bauhaus had been formalized in a contract of mutual support and belief only two years earlier.
In a 1927 exhibition at the Oakland Museum, young Hagedorn's painting of a female nude created a scandal. Despite censorship and eventual disinheritance by his wealthy father, Hagedorn persisted in his convictions, and continued to paint and draw the nude throughout his long life.
The inheritance from his maternal family's insurance agency made Hagedorn increasingly independent from the 1930's on. He withdrew to the seclusion of his studio/residence on Woolsey Street in Berkeley, where he died intestate in 1982, leaving the bulk of his life's work packed in boxes in the attic of his house.
Despite reclusiveness and rejection of commercial opportunity, Hagedorn achieved some modest but significant public attention. Galka Scheyer frequently offered to exhibit his work, inviting him to become the fifth member of her distinguished group, but was rejected. According to fellow-artist Paul Carey. Carey remembered his colleague as "... an outsider, a loner, a tall thin man who walked down the street looking like a question-mark. He had no use for success." Nevertheless, he is listed in Scheyer's bequest to the Pasadena Art Institute, which would become the Norton Simon Museum, and a drawing was exhibited there in Galka Scheyer/The Blue Four Collection , Winter, 1994-95, on the same short wall as a major Picasso and a Diego Rivera. Alfred Frankenstein, the influential Bay Area critic and professor of art history at Mills College, wrote of him in 1976 as being among "the finest draughtsmen I ever knew."
Examples of his work are held in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation, Alliance Capital Corporation, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Getty Center for the Study of American Art History, the Hood Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the National Museum of American Art, Northwestern University, the Norton Simon Museum, the Oakland Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Minnesota Museum of Art. His graphic work was widely exhibited from 1925 to 1949 in group exhibitions in the print rooms of major museums, including The Brooklyn Museum and The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
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